OTTAWA — The case of SNC-Lavalin continues to cause sparks and create misunderstanding on the hill. Shortly after that Justin Trudeau has apologized on Wednesday, Jody Wilson-Raybould stood in the full House for the challenge let it be expressed freely.
Before entering the House of commons for question period Wednesday, the prime minister had felt the need to apologize to his former minister of Justice and attorney general, who resigned in the wake of this story.
“I want to emphasize something that I said to the caucus this morning : I must make apologies to Jody, because I have not been quick enough to condemn the remarks unacceptable and derogatory which were made against her last week,” said Justin Trudeau, Wednesday.
“I ended up doing it, but I would have had to look for an opportunity to do it before, because it was absolutely unacceptable,” he added in a media scrum prior to the question period. He did not specify what he was referring to, but when he repeated the same act of contrition in English, he referred to the “comments” and “caricatures”.
But lo and behold, about an hour later, the outgoing minister has benefited from a reminder of the rules – when she stood up to justify the fact that it abstained from ruling on a motion for the holding of a public inquiry on the case of SNC-Lavalin – to shoot an arrow to the intention of his boss.
“It is not for me to lift the obligation of professional secrecy and confidentiality, and I hope to have the opportunity to give my version of the truth (“speak my truth”)”, a-t-it-balanced – a comment that triggered a thunder of applause in the benches of the opposition.
Trapped at its exit of the parliament, Jody Wilson-Raybould has not wanted to further clarify his thinking. “I said what I had to say,” is it merely offer.
The opposition saw in it the sign of a mp that will be a challenge for anyone who has the authority to waive the secrecy of lawyer-client (as attorney general, she was a lawyer, and the government, the “customer”).
“What is surprising is that they feel compelled to say it in the Room. Me, I perceived it as a kind of message and addresses it to the prime minister”, commented the deputy bloquiste Rhéal Fortin.
The note of Jody Wilson-Raybould came as mps voted on a motion from the opposition ndp calling for the holding of a public inquiry on the case of SNC-Lavalin.
Not surprisingly, the liberals have used their majority in the Chamber to block the adoption.
Two members of parliament, Nathaniel Erskine-Smith and Wayne Long, have broken ranks by registering a vote in favour of a public inquiry, but it was not enough.
The motion was defeated by a score of 160 to 134.
“It is not for me to lift the obligation of professional secrecy and confidentiality, and I hope to have the opportunity to give my version of the truth ”
The result could have been different if, as the would have liked the conservatives, members of the cabinet had followed the same logic advanced by the former minister and abstained from the vote.
“We could ask the question : is that the entire cabinet would not have had to abstain from voting today? The president (of the Chamber) said he was going to have to look into, and can’t wait to see the result of his reflection”, explained the member of parliament Alain Rayes.
Among new democrats, we do not go too far : “For us, it does not relate to the entire cabinet. It specifically targets the prime minister,” said mp Alexandre Boulerice in point of press.
Commissioner and committee
Justin Trudeau had reported its of little interest to the public inquiry in the morning, saying its preference for the two processes already underway, including the investigation initiated by the ethics commissioner.
Conservatives, new democrats and bloquistes, however, believe that the investigation of commissioner Mario Dion will not be sufficient to shed light on allegations of political interference.
And they do not feed much hope to learn more when Jody Wilson-Raybould will speak at the standing committee on justice and human rights, where she has been invited.
The committee should begin its review of the case of SNC-Lavalin group Wednesday, but the meeting was cancelled due to too short notice.
The ex-attorney general is expected to appear next week.
But it’s impossible to know if, by then his successor David Lametti has produced its own legal opinion on the secrecy of lawyer-client.
And it is unknown if the new minister of Justice, who will appear Thursday before the committee, may itself shed some light on the lanterns of deputies.
“I’ll say what I can say. Of course, I can’t say that I can’t say it,” he said in a media scrum after the meeting of the caucus.
The case of SNC-Lavalin continues to torment the Trudeau government, but the liberal members of parliament – those who have accepted to answer the questions – have wanted to project the image of a caucus welded.
Of all the elect, only the always loquacious minister of public Safety, Ralph Goodale, has offered his perspective on the allegations of political interference, confirming that Ms. Wilson-Raybould had taken the floor in front of his colleagues during the meeting.
And the minister said he was confident of the fact that, according to what he has heard, no impropriety has been asked by the prime minister and his bodyguard, claiming that the atmosphere was “good” to the caucus meeting – the first since the case, SNC-Lavalin has exploded.
The other liberals were less verbal, but those who have expressed themselves have abounded in the same direction as the prevailing climate.
“All is well”, for example, began to John McKay by pressing the not.
His colleague Joël Lightbound, for its part, argues that the liberal caucus was “very kingdom (…) with Ms. Wilson-Raybould, who is here”, but mostly “behind Justin Trudeau, who is our prime minister”.
In the beginning of the day, the one that is at the heart of this story admitted that the mystery surrounding his resignation from the cabinet was something of fâchant.
“As I said, and I know that it is frustrating for a lot of people, I want to make sure I know what I can say, and what I can say,” let it fall, Ms. Wilson-Raybould.
“This is the reason why I am getting legal notice relating to the obligation of professional secrecy”, she chained in a media scrum at the entrance of the meeting of the caucus.
It has retained the services of the ex-supreme Court judge Thomas Cromwell to determine how far it can go in its about.
The former minister, usually a little fond of the exchanges with the journalists, halted for a second day in a row in front of the cameras.
On Tuesday, she had caused a surprise by emerging from the cabinet meeting where she had asked for permission to speak.
His resignation came in the wake of the case of SNC-Lavalin, has led to the Trudeau government in the lurch.
The story was made to roll a head at the office of the prime minister – Gerald Butts, a close advisor and longtime friend of Justin Trudeau, has bowed out Monday.
According to the daily newspaper The Globe and Mail, the prime minister’s office would have exerted pressure on Ms. Wilson-Raybould to intervene to avoid a trial at SNC-Lavalin.
Prime minister Trudeau has denied having asked such a gesture. His former principal secretary, Gerald Butts, did the same thing in a statement released at the time of his resignation.